Yet another serious fire involving a Dubai tall tower that dramatically engulfed the face of the building and caused immense damage has raised more concerns over such structures that utilise flammable aluminium composite cladding panels on their vertical elevations.
At around 21:30 hrs on New Year’s Eve, a fire broke out on the 20th floor of the 63 storey Address Downtown Hotel. The 991 ft high tall tower was completed in 2008 at a cost of £156 million and is close to the Burj Kalifa Tower, the world’s tallest building. The hotel has 196 rooms and 626 apartments.
The fire spread very rapidly to engulf most of one of the hotel’s external faces as units of Dubai Civil Defence quickly arrived to get to work. There was some panic amongst residents during the evacuation of the tower, although it was fortunate that there were no serious casualties. Dubai authorities later reported that 16 residents had suffered minor injuries.
The principal concern of the fire risk of ACP’s is their use of a flammable polyurethane and other foam-based ‘sandwich’ filling. The use of ACP’s was banned by government regulation in 2013, when UAE Civil Defence announced an extension to existing fire safety codes requiring owners of high-rise towers with flammable cladding panels to install a ring of fire retardant panels on every third floor to stop fire spread, together with external sprinklers and drenchers.
However, many of Dubai’s 200 – plus tall towers were completed before the 2013 ban, and in the meantime must be considered vulnerable to the risk of fire so graphically demonstrated by this most recent outbreak.
This inbuilt risk was further underlined by the fact that The Address Downtown fire was the third such occurrence involving a Dubai tall tower since 2013 where ACP’s clearly contributed to a rapid fire spread. Most recently was the fire in February 2015 in the 86 storey Torch residential tower, and the Tamweel Tower outbreak in November 2012.
Following the Address Downtown fire, the Dubai government issued a Civil Defence statement that said that the causes and circumstances of the fire were being investigated.
Gulf Fire will be reporting on further developments on the tall tower ACP situation, both on our website, E-Newswires and in future editions of the magazine.